Volume 7, Issue 4

February 29, 2008

Hot Topics

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine delivered a budget to the state Legislature this week that cuts total state spending by $500 million and yet increases spending for pre-K to 12 education by $600 million. The increase for pre-K is $26.5 million. Late last year, Corzine proposed and the legislature approved a new school funding formula that focuses education spending for disadvantaged children statewide rather than primarily on those districts designated as low income.
Children from 6 months to 18 years of age who don't have serious egg allergies should be receive annual flu shots, says a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If, as expected, the CDC accepts the advice, it would set in motion a major expansion in flu vaccination to cover an estimated 30 million children. The recommendation departs from past policy of recommending vaccinations for groups most at risk of mortality from the flu and aims to reduce the spread of the flu by school kids. The proposal would begin taking effect in 2009. CDC has no authority to require flu vaccination for school attendance but a number of states are expected to follow New Jersey's lead of requiring it.
The Idaho Statesman reports the state Senate Education Committee is considering two bills that would pave the way for more pre-K there. One would set aside $4 million to establish ten pilot programs that would be evaluated in 2012 with a view to dedicating $18 million to expansion. The other would remove the prohibition against school districts levying taxes to support pre-K. The hearings came about after a survey released by Boise State University and funded by Kids Count found that most residents believe the state should help pay for pre-K programs. According to the Statesman nobody testified against early education. Idaho is one of 12 states that do not provide state-funded pre-K.
A study by University of Oregon researcher David J. Chard and colleagues found that teaching the Early Learning in Mathematics curriculum in kindergarten shows promise. Classrooms in the study treatment group received the curriculum 30 minutes a day and teachers taught it for two years. Students receiving the curriculum in year 2 of the study out-performed students who did not in math skills. Teachers were more comfortable teaching the curriculum in Year 2 than Year 1.
Funding the Future: States' Approaches to Pre-K Finance 2008 Update, a timely report from Pre-K Now, examines the wide range of approaches states use to fund their public pre-K programs, how effective they have been in identifying funds and how sustainable those funding sources are. Author Diana Stone, an attorney and senior fellow at the policy organization Washington Appleseed, provides an analysis designed to encourage policymakers to think creatively about ways to supplement and sustain current funding streams.
The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) has published a new report titled Challenging Common Myths About Young English Language Learners. Author Linda Espinosa, former early childhood education professor at the University of Missouri, discusses six commonly held beliefs about the development of young children who are learning English as a second language.
Three communities that experienced large worksite immigration raids last year form the sample for a new Urban Institute study about the effects of the raids on kids. In two of the sites most of the children were age ten and younger. In one, more than half were five and younger. Mental trauma, family separation and school interruptions are some of the effects the study found.

Grandparents, fathers and other relatives regularly provide care for nearly half the nation's preschoolers, says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the 11.3 million children under 5 whose mothers were employed, 30 percent were cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent during mom's working hours. A slightly greater percentage of that group spent time in an organized care facility and 25 percent were cared for by their fathers.

New on nieer.org

This week, NIEER's website showcases two NPR broadcasts where NIEER research fellows Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong jump in on a discussion of how play influences children's learning outcomes. Visit nieer.org for more information and links to the two-part Morning Edition look at preschoolers' play.

Calendar

March 14, 2008 - March 16, 2008
Long Beach, CA – Join administrators, policy makers, and child care professionals for the NCCA's Annual Leadership Conference.
March 15, 2008 - March 17, 2008
New Orleans, LA – The theme of this year's conference is "Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change."
March 16, 2008 - March 19, 2008
Alberta, Canada – This conference will gather key researchers to review effective early learning programs.
March 26, 2008 - March 29, 2008
Atlanta, GA – The theme of this year's conference is "Beyond Standards: Reaching Every Child's Potential."
March 30, 2008 - April 1, 2008
Louisville, KY – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 1, 2008 - April 3, 2008
St. Louis, MO – Participants at this conference will be given opportunities to network with national and international early childhood professionals while sharing insights and expertise with their peers.
April 1, 2008 - April 5, 2008
Washington, DC – This conference attracts over 600 participants from across the nation, who attend to discover the latest developments in child care resource and referral.
April 10, 2008 - April 11, 2008
San Diego, CA – This institute offers teachers a way to provide academically integrated physical education activities to preschoolers.
April 16, 2008 - April 19, 2008
New Orleans, LA – This conference will host sessions on child care best practices, aiming to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.

Early Education News Roundup

February 29, 2008
The New York Times
Grandparents serve as the primary caregivers for about 20 percent of the 11.3 million preschool children with employed mothers, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. About a quarter of the children under 5 spend most of their time in an organized program like a nursery school, day care or Head Start while their mothers worked.
February 29, 2008
Lawrence Journal-World
Children would be required to attend kindergarten under a Senate-passed bill that also lowers the age for starting school from 7 to 6. Kindergarten is required in all 296 school districts that receive $2,187 in base state aid for kindergarten students.
February 29, 2008
Miller-McCune Magazine, Santa Barbara, CA
For educators and academics, kindergarten is a crucial area of study because it provides a bridge between early learning and formal school. A new Early Childhood Research Quarterly study adds to evidence that full-day programs improve children's literacy and shows that small classes may be even better for disadvantaged students.
February 28, 2008
The Columbian, Vancouver, WA
A bill that would allow day care center workers and directors to bargain with the governor for higher reimbursement rates and benefits has passed the House and is scheduled for a key vote in a Senate committee today. The average early childhood teacher in Washington earns less than $20,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and many day care instructors lack health insurance.
February 27, 2008
The Wall Street Journal
Shares in Australia's ABC Learning Centres Ltd. plunged 43% yesterday as hedge funds sold shares of the child-care provider short amid concerns over its hefty debt.
February 26, 2008
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
State Reps. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta) and Stephanie Benfield (D-Atlanta) introduced legislation this session to create a statewide program for 3-year-olds, but the Legislature is wary and unlikely to comply. At the very least, the General Assembly should embrace a proposal by state Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) to launch a study committee to assess unmet needs in programs for 4-year-olds and to examine how best to use lottery reserves.
February 26, 2008
The Duncan Banner, Duncan, OK
A National Institute for Early Education Research study demonstrated that students in all-day pre-K classes do better on literacy and mathematics tests when compared to their half-day counterparts. "One thing that the all-day program has that has been beneficial is it gives the classroom teacher more time with students individually," [Will Rogers Pre-K Assistant Principal Mona] Evans said.
February 25, 2008
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Our nation's best scientists tell us that pre-kindergarten is one of the best investments government can make, particularly when focused, as here, on students from low-income families. The long-term benefits of high quality pre-kindergarten can be profound: fewer special education placements, lower likelihood of being held back in school, higher graduation rates, lower crime and unemployment rates, less reliance on welfare, higher lifetime wages, a higher likelihood of having health insurance, and a lower rate of disability assistance.
February 25, 2008
Idaho Statesman
Most Idahoans believe the government should help provide high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, a Boise State University survey says. Among the survey's findings was that a third of Idahoans said finding affordable child care was the largest challenge for low-income working parents with young children.
February 25, 2008
Missourian, Columbia, MO
Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, sponsored a bill to give the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence the authority to certify professional people looking for careers in education in Missouri. Through ABCTE, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., and funded through federal grants, people can obtain a teaching certificate without having a bachelor's degree in education.
February 24, 2008
The Tennessean
The voluntary, full-day program, provided mostly through public school districts, currently targets 17,000 children who live in poverty. Gov. Phil Bredesen wants to expand the program next year by $25 million and 250 classrooms and ultimately offer it to all Tennessee 4-year-olds.
February 22, 2008
The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
An attempt to authorize standards for preschools in South Dakota died Thursday on a 10-5 vote in the Legislature's House Education Committee. The original bill proposed that the state Education Department write standards for the voluntary accreditation of pre-kindergarten programs and the certification of teachers in those programs.
February 21, 2008
The Arlington Advocate, Lexington, MA
Early childhood education is needed now more than ever, as more children are identified as having disabilities or circumstances that require special attention. A recent statistic demonstrates that as many as 1 in 150 kids is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
February 20, 2008
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The recent introduction of Georgia House Bill 939 to establish pre-k for 3-year-olds has sparked a much-needed discussion. That discussion has revealed many misconceptions about the economic realities of working families and the importance of quality early care and education for our young children and our community.

Resources

This book, published in 2007 by Brown University historian Howard Chudacoff, provides a history of play from the point of view of children. The author documents the transformation of play in American society from improvised games to modern toy-based play and the rise of the toy industry. Chudacoff discusses the findings and observations of social scientists as they pertain to play and the implications of modern patterns of play on child development.
This policy paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy highlights strategies to address working families' needs, examines the extent to which state-funded preschool education programs meet those needs, and describes models that currently do so.